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Economy

Hundreds of vineyards and farms damaged by storms in southern France

media Montpellier under water on Monday AFP/Sylvain Thomas

Storms in southern France have devastated vineyards and farms in the southern French department of l’Hérault. Winemakers and farmers are lobbying for government support and a rapid response from insurance companies after floods in the city of Montpellier and the countryside around it.

About 200 vineyards and farms suffered “enormous damage” on Monday when torrential rain hit the area, said Jérôme Despey of the local chamber of agriculture and farmers’ union, FNSEA.

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The grape harvest started in August so only about 15 per cent of the crop was still on the vines but the vines themselves were badly damaged in many cases.

“East of Montpellier the water swept away whole clumps of vines and it is still difficult to get to the flooded fields,” he said on Tuesday afternoon when Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve visited the region.

Other crops were destroyed greenhouses were flooded, he added, calling for the government to declare state of natural disaster, which obliges insurance companies to pay compensation to victims, as quickly as possible.

Agriculture Minister Stéphane Le Foll called for a reduction in property taxes on farmers’ land and asked banks to help winemakers to “get through this difficult period”

Despey pressed Cazeneuve to reduce farmers’ social security payments.

The floods are believed to have caused millions of euros-worth of damage in Montpellier itself.

A storm warning for the Var region, to the east of l'Hérault, was lifted on Wednesday.
 

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